Waller and Montgomery County Stories Generally
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Thomas Ginn Wallingford was involved in a number of 'incidents' in his life, with quite a few involving guns. Some were 'legitimate' - T.G. served as a Constable when he was young, and then later in Waller County. In that capacity he was involved in several shootings. But others were more just a product of the general violence of the times. This story is the one that our family has the most details about...
Fields Store, in the northeast corner of Waller County, Texas, back on 8 November 1892 - it was a Tuesday...
An election for state officials had been underway all day. Shortly before the polling booths were due to close in the early evening, an argument broke out. Some said it was related to a bet that was in place on the election of the constable, others said it was a longstanding feud that just came to a head. There is probably an element of truth to both stories.
At any rate, gunfire broke out, leaving one man dead and one very badly wounded. Charles M. Quinn, the dead man, and Calla McConnell, the wounded man, were both about 23 years old.
The judges conducting the election apparently retreated quickly - taking the ballot box with them - toward Montgomery County and Harris County!
Three men were arrested for the shootings - Thomas Ginn Wallingford, Reuben Boulware (T.G.'s son in law, married to his daughter Annie) and Joe Woods. T.G. would have been nearly 63, and Reuben not quite 40.
Joe Woods isn't part of our family, but he was probably a 43 year old farmer, living just to the east of Fields Store in Montgomery County (based on a finding in the 1900 census). All of the participants were described as being from 'prominant' families in the area...
By the next day, 10 November 1892, the facts had become a bit more clear. Some sort of coroner's inquest had been held, and County Attorney Mahan was able to conclude the fight had been related to an old grudge, and started when Quinn's younger brother had brought a Winchester rifle to the polling area and started making threats. No one ever referred to how the other side ended up with weapons!
On the basis of that, Justice of the Peace Robertson allowed bail to Wallingford, Boulware and Woods, requiring them to pay $500 to get their freedom until the next term of the district court could deal with the situation.
Several days later, it was recorded that Calla McConnell was out of danger - he didn't die, as it turns out.
We have a family story, passed down through Arthur Moore, Jr., one of T.G.'s GGrandchildren that almost certainly describes this incident, though it refers to two deaths:
Grandpa Wallingford's son-in-law, Reuben Boulware, got in a shoot-out at Field's Store with two men. They had him cornered when someone ran and told Grandpa Wallingford. Grandpa quickly arrived at the scene, calmly walked up close to the two men shooting at his son-in-law, steadied his pistol on a fence post, and shot and killed both of them.
That story may or may not have related to this one - as near as can be seen by the later court hearings, it wasn't T.G. who did the killing, but most likely Reuben.
Early the next year, on 11 February 1893, a Grand Jury indicted the three for the murder of Charles Quinn. After Judge Reese heard some evidence, the defendants put in a writ of habeus corpus, asking to be allowed to remain out on bail.
It was several days before Judge Reese granted bail, with Boulware and Wood having put put up $2,500 and Wallingford only $1,000.
Later in the month, on 24 February 1893, the case was carried over until the next term of the court, even though the defendants were apparently anxious to have the trial over with. The District Attorney, John Pinckney, said that no civil cases had been held in the term.
Obviously, in a county of this size, relationships were close and often mixed. T.G. had been in a farming partnership with Pinckney - and they had even served in Hood's Brigade together in the Civil War. T.G. had named one of his children 'Pinckney'. One might have to consider if all was really 'unbiased' throughout the court side of this story...
The following fall, on 8 August 1893, the State, through District Attorney Pinckney, called for a change of venue for the trial.
It was about a year later before the initial trial took place. On 15 August 1894 a two day trial concluded with Joe Woods being acquitted. The case against T.G. Wallingford was dismissed, again at the request of the District Attorney! The case against Reuben Boulware was transferred to nearby Austin County.
Another case on that same day probably was related this incident, too. City Marshall Goss was found 'not guilty' for killing Hugh B. Quinn, an uncle of Charles Quinn. Goss apparently made a clear case of self-defence, based on witnesses to the altercation in a local saloon. Both Charles Quinn and his uncle Hugh are buried in Fields Store Cemetery, using the same tombstone that records that both were 'killed'...
Reuben Boulware's trial did not take place until more than a year, in Bellville in the middle of January 1896. The trial lasted nearly a week, and resulted in a 'not guilty' verdict. Again, a family story passed down by Arthur Moore, Jr., probably originated with this trial:
Grandpa Wallingford's son-in-law, Reuben Boulware, was on trial in Austin County for murder. I don't know whether or not this had something to do with the incident discussed above. Grandpa Wallingford was called as a character witness by the defense. On cross examination, the prosecutor attempted to discredit Grandpa by asking, 'Mr. Wallingford, isn't it true that you killed two men just last year?' Grandpa answered firmly, 'I killed two horse thieves.' This brought laughter from the jury and was considered to be a factor in their acquittal of Uncle Reuben Boulware.